Good things can bud from a disappointing situation

Note: This column appears in the 3/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/20 issue of the Peoria Times

Shortly after we moved to Arizona and got settled into our house, it came time to have our backyard done. Because this was really our first house, and because we were largely unfamiliar with the local landscape, we admittedly were pretty clueless. We received a landscaping reference, met with him, and decided to go with him. He seemed to know what he was talking about, and he promised my wife a lemon tree, the one thing we knew we wanted.

Maybe a month or two after our backyard was complete, we noticed that many of the plants the guy had installed had died. He also neglected to inform us how to properly care for a lemon tree, and now we have a lemon tree that produces thorns and lemon-scented leaves. I called him about this situation, left a zillion messages, but he would never answer or return my calls. This went on for weeks. One day I called from a different line and finally got a hold of him, and he pretended that it wasn’t him:

Hi, Barry…this Mike Kenny…

Uh, no…Barry’s not here.

But this is your cell phone.

Umm, Barry doesn’t work here anymore.

Really? Barry doesn’t work for “Barry’s Landscaping” anymore?


You are Barry.


These were enjoyable times all around. We quickly realized we were going to have to remedy this problem ourselves.

To be honest, I was kind of excited. To say that I am not “handy” is an understatement of epic proportions, but I do like to work, especially outside, so this seemed like a good opportunity to be a man and get dirty. First purchase? Gloves with flowers on them.

My wife and I went to Moon Valley Nurseries and bought a lime tree to replace one of the dead plants. I was anxious to get started because, hey, even an idiot such as myself can dig a hole.

As I was digging a deeper hole to plant the tree I accidentally sliced our drip line. This halted our landscaping progress for about two months. Between my dad, my visiting father-in-law, and several Home Depot workers, I was actually able to fix it. Now when I am at parties and guys are talking about stuff I like to tell them the story about how I sliced our drip line while digging and then fixed it seven weeks later with the help of several other people.

Anyway, the lemon tree looked great and was already starting to bud. When my in-laws came to visit a few weeks ago, they too thought we needed more “green” in the backyard and bought us a white peach tree and an apricot tree. We planted those together –- I dug, of course –- and they look fantastic. We planted much more than that with the help of my mother-in-law and her green thumb.

Now when I walk outside to our backyard, I am so proud of what we did together. Getting screwed over by a shiesty dude was the best thing that happened to us because it forced us to do things ourselves, and we learned a lot in the process. Now each tree has a story, and everything looks beautiful as it blooms in the Arizona spring.

No grudges either. My wife even suggested inviting Barry over to suck on one of our limes.


Anonymous said…
Hey Mike, way to find the silver lining...and the new trees look great!

Love, Jill